H/T to Luboc Motl for posting at his blog Deborah Cohen, BBC, and models vs theories Excerpts in italics with my bolds
Dr Deborah Cohen is an award-winning health journalist who has a doctor degree – which actually seems to be related to medical sciences – and who is working for the BBC Newsnight now. I think that the 13-minute-long segment above is an excellent piece of journalism.
It seems to me that she primarily sees that the “models” predicting half a million of dead Britons have spectacularly failed and it is something that an honest health journalist simply must be interested in. And she seems to be an achieved and award-winning journalist. Second, she seems to see through some of the “more internal” defects of bad medical (and not only medical) science. Her PhD almost certainly helps in that. Someone whose background is purely in humanities or the PR-or-communication gibberish simply shouldn’t be expected to be on par with a real PhD.
So she has talked to the folks at the “Oxford evidence-based medicine” institute and others who understand the defect of the “computer models” as the basis of science or policymaking. Unsurprisingly, she is more or less led to the conclusion that the lockdown (in the U.K.) was a mistake.
If your equation – or computer model – assumes that 5% of those who contract the virus die (i.e. the probability is 5% that they die in a week if they get the virus), then your predicted fatality count may be inflated by a factor of 25 assuming that the case fatality rate is 0.2% – and it is something comparable to that. It should be a common sense that if someone makes a factor-of-25 error in the choice of this parameter, his predictions may be wrong by a factor-of-25, too. It doesn’t matter if the computer program looks like SimCity with 66.666 million Britons represented by a piece of a giant RAM memory of a supercomputer. This brute force obviously cannot compensate for a fundamental ignorance or error in your choice of the fatality rate.
I would think that most 3-year-old kids get this simple point and maybe this opinion is right. Nevertheless, most adults seem to be completely braindead today and they don’t get this point. When they are told that something was calculated by a computer, they worship the predictions. They don’t ask “whether the program was based on a realistic or scientifically supported theory”. Just the brute power of the pile of silicon seems to amaze them.
So we always agreed e.g. with Richard Lindzen that an important part of the degeneration of the climate science was the drift away from the proper “theory” to “modeling”. A scientist may be more leaning towards doing experiments and finding facts and measuring parameters with her hands (and much of the experimental climate science remained OK, after all, Spencer and Christy are still measuring the temperature by satellites etc.); and a theorist for whom the brain is (even) more important than for the experimenter. Experimenters sort of continued to do their work. However, it’s mainly the “theorists” who hopelessly degenerated in the climate science, under the influence of toxic ideology, politics, and corruption.
The real problem is that proper theorists – those who actually understand the science – can solve basic equations on the top of their heads, and are aware of all the intricacies in the process of finding the right equations, equivalence and unequivalence of equations, universal behavior, statistical effects etc. – were replaced by “modelers” i.e. people who don’t really have a clue about science, who write a computer-game-like code, worship their silicon, and mindlessly promote what comes out of this computer game. It is a catastrophe for the field – and the same was obviously happening to “theoretical epidemiology”, too.
“Models” and “good theory” aren’t just orthogonal. The culture of “models” is actively antiscientific because it comes with the encouragement to mindlessly trust in what happens in computer games. This isn’t just “different and independent from” the genuine scientific method. It just directly contradicts the scientific method. In science, you just can’t ever mindlessly trust something just because expensive hardware was used or a high number of operations was made by the CPU. These things are really negative for the trustworthiness and expected accuracy of the science, not positive. In science, you want to make things as simple as possible (because the proliferation of moving parts increases the probability of glitches) but not simpler; and you want to solve a maximum fraction of the issues analytically, not numerically or by a “simulation”.
Science is a systematic framework to figure out which statements about Nature are correct and which are incorrect.
And according to quantum mechanics, the truth values of propositions must be probabilistic. Quantum mechanics only predicts the “similarity [of propositions] to the truth” which is the translation of the Czech word for probability (pravděpodobnost).
It is the truth values (or probabilities) that matter in science – the separation of statements to right and wrong ones (or likely and unlikely ones). Again, I think that I am saying something totally elementary, something that I understood before I was 3 and so did many of you. But it seems obvious that the people who need to ask whether Leo’s or Stephen’s pictures are “theories of everything” must totally misunderstand even this basic point – that science is about the truth, not just representation of objects.
Footnote: Babylon Bee Has Some Fun with this Topic.
PORTLAND, OR—Local man Trevor J. Gavyn pleaded with his conservative coworker to “believe the science on climate change,” though he himself does not believe the science on the number of genders there are, the fact that unborn babies are fully human, and that socialism has failed every time it has been tried.
“It’s just like, the science is settled, man,” he said in between puffs on his vape. “We just need to believe the scientists and listen to the experts here.”
“Facts don’t care about your feelings on the climate, bro,” he added, though he ignores the fact that there are only two biological genders. He also hand-waves away the science that an unborn baby is 100% biologically human the moment it is conceived and believes economics is a “conservative hoax foisted on us by the Illuminati and Ronald Reagan.”
“That whole thing is, like, a big conspiracy, man,” he said.
The conservative coworker, for his part, said he will trust the science on gender, unborn babies, and economics while simply offering “thoughts and prayers” for the climate.